Folly Writ Large
“History was a useless discipline, an assemblage of accounts and memories, often flawed, that in the end did the world no service. Math and science could be applied in concrete ways. Literature, if it didn’t enlighten, at least entertained. But history? History was simply a study in futility. Because people never learned. Century after century, they committed the same atrocities against one another or against the earth, and the only thing that changed was the magnitude of the slaughter.” - Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger
The above excerpt could begin some interesting conversations, but one thing is certain: human beings continually exhibit a repeating of past mistakes . . . even horrible mistakes. One of the most ludicrous phrases that belies itself was calling WWI the “war to end all wars.” The post-1918 list of conflicts involving people killing each other is staggering. And as you read this, the world contains over 14,000 nuclear weapons, roughly 3,700 of them active and ready to be fired. The United States annual spending on the military is around 600 billion, over half of the country’s budget.
WHY don’t we learn? Why do human beings who know of past horrors ignore them and perpetrate a repeat of the same? I suppose it would take a team of psychologists to propose answers.
Self-interest, be it individual or national, might be pegged as a root cause. Me first, or me only. The attitude makes for a world of misery.
What kind of world do I want to live in? If it’s one characterized by peace and harmony, I need to look at all other people as worthy of the same respect and consideration I wish for myself.